New Japan Pro Wrestling’s (NJPW) annual round robin tournament is into the second half, as twenty competitors contend to win the G1 Climax 31. Two blocks of ten competitors face each other once, and for each match up, the rules are simple: a win will earn the winner 2 points while the loser earns nothing, and a time limit draw will grant both competitors 1 point (both men being counted out will result in 0 points given to anyone). Once everyone has faced each other once, the two overall winners meet with a Wrestle Kingdom main event up for grabs.
[Please note: there may be spoilers for all previous days of the tournament so far. Please click here for my thoughts on Day 9!]
We’re into the double digits, and that means the B Block competitors will be looking to cement themselves in the running for the G1 Climax 31. In the main event, Kazuchika Okada and SANADA run back their long time rivalry, while Hirooki Goto looks to finally get his first win against YOSHI-HASHI in an intra-CHAOS fight. The undefeated Jeff Cobb will look to continue his streak against the newly motivated Taichi, and the Bullet Club continues their tournament in-fighting when EVIL faces Tama Tonga. Starting the show, Chase Owens faces The Ace, Hiroshi Tanahashi.
Things start to get interesting as we reach the mid-point of the tournament (and forgive me if any of this is wrong, it gets tricky):
- Chase Owens (2 points) must win to stay alive;
- Tama Tonga (2 points) must win to stay alive;
- YOSHI-HASHI (2 points) must win to stay alive;
- Hirooki Goto (0 points) must win AND both Jeff Cobb and Kazuchika Okada must lose or draw for Goto to stay alive.
+ Hirooki Goto vs YOSHI-HASHI (G1 Climax 31 B Block Match): I did enjoy this, but frankly it felt strange to put it so high on the card considering the point totals of the competitors. These two started the match like a rocket, blasting each other with stiff forearms. and Goto’s kicks looks brutal as expected. There was one point in this match that I loved so much, but was not expecting at all, that I literally gasped out loud in my living room. What a banger
+ Taichi vs Jeff Cobb (G1 Climax 31 B Block Match): good lord almighty, this was one of the best matches of the tournament. Both competitors were absolute warriors, with some of the best Taichi kicks, Cobb power and crowd control from both men I’ve seen in a very long time. I absolutely loved this match
+ EVIL vs Tama Tonga (G1 Climax 31 B Block Match): this was easily the best EVIL match from the tournament so far. I thought maybe EVIL/Chase Owens from Day 8 was going to be the peak, but this was a legitimately good match. I could take or leave the ending shenanigans, but considering who was in the match and the seconds they brought with them, it easily could have gone the other way
+ Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Chase Owens (G1 Climax 31 B Block Match): hot damn, Chase is on the case this G1. This was Tanahashi’s first opening match for this tournament, and I admit he did seem to be working a bit slower than usual, but that only accentuated how good Chase has looked lately. I am not really a fan of those “V Triggers” Chase does, but they looked fantastic in this match. This was a lot of fun
– Kazuchika Okada vs SANADA (G1 Climax 31 B Block Match): I absolutely did not care for this match at all, until a final stretch really built the tension and excitement. I’m listing it as a negative overall, because the rest of the match was exactly what you’d expect from these two, and that is a match I am not really a fan of. I really like Okada, and I want to like SANADA, but they just don’t work well together the way SANADA/Zack Sabre Jr do
Should you watch this event: You need to go out of your way to see Taichi/Jeff Cobb, but frankly you won’t go wrong with the any part of the show. I just wish I could get into SANADA’s matches more often.